The NYPD says 43-year-old grandfather and former pro wrestler John Collado put a plainclothes officer in a chokehold during a drug bust in Inwood Tuesday. The unidentified narcotics detective fatally shot Collado in the stomach during the scuffle—but Collado's family and lawyer say it didn't go down like that. Attorney Patrick Brackley told reporters yesterday that he's reviewed surveillance tape that shows Callado never put the cop in a chokehold, and that he intervened only because he thought his friend was being robbed by a man who did not identify himself as police officer.
The whole sad mess started because Collado's friend, Rangel Batista, 23, was spotted rolling a joint in the lobby of a building on Post Avenue, near Dyckman Street. Batista is a convicted drug dealer who was suspected of dealing out of the lobby, and when he was approached by the officer, he resisted arrest. The scuffle spilled out into the street, where Callado happened upon the scene. His family says he was trying to break up what he perceived to be a fight, but he never had the officer in a chokehold—and they say the cop never identified himself.
DNAinfo reports that Collado's niece, Taveras, who is studying to become a nurse, was there and tried to help her uncle, but was arrested instead. "It turns out she was beaten by the police as well, has numerous bruises was arrested and spent almost 27 hours in the police lockup before she was released by a judge," says Brackley. The NYPD says Traveras slapped a police radio out of an officer's hand, screamed at the cops, and tried to jump in the ambulance.
Collado did not die until the following morning, but his family was not permitted to see him before he died. Batista, who was arrested after a chase, was arraigned on assault and resisting arrest charges yesterday. And Brackley? He's obviously planning a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. "These are nine-to-10-member police teams," Brackley told reporters yesterday, referring to undercover drug operations. "There should have been another officer right on the scene to protect either his officer or Mr. Collado, assuming they were there doing the job they were supposed to do."